Poetry in Language Arts

Poetry in Language Arts

Why is it that some students once they reach the intermediate grades groan when teachers mention the word poetry? Are educators informed enough on the benefits of poetry in language arts studies to answer; why study poetry at all? As educators we know that poetry is a useful tool in the development of language and literacy skills. Incorporating poetry into language arts aids in the development of reading and writing skills and encourages students to develop critical thinking skills and further helps students make meaning from words.

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For young children, poetry engages students into the literature they are being exposed to through rhymes and emphasizes listening skills. For older children in intermediate grades and high school, poetry can be used as a vessel of self-expression when they no longer feel comfortable sharing and expressing their ideas verbally and poetry can encourage sophisticated writing skills. The power of poetry in language arts is most evident through larger theme based units that can often include the participation of the entire class.

Themes such as “Peace” and “Environmental Issues” may be used as an assessment indicator by educators in language arts curriculum. The first article from the Journal of Instructional Psychology titled “Exploring Poetry: The Reading and Writing Connection” focuses on the incorporation of poetry into the reading and writing curriculum and factors educators need to consider when introducing poetry to students. For younger children, poetry is another facet of storytelling; it gives meaning to experiences people go through in life.

Illustrations and rhyming found in children’s poetry help children to better remember the stories that have been read to them. The “ingredients” of poetry as the author calls them, refer to the use of creative comparisons, alliteration and onomatopoeia. Through these ingredients, students can hear the uniqueness that poetry presents in languages. There are various different kinds of written poetry, free verse, limericks and haikus that educators may expose to students throughout the school year. It is important to expose students to the various types of poetry so that they may choose one that best suits their individual learning style.

This is especially important for older students who begin to value their freedom of expression and do not wish to be conformed to one particular style of writing. The second article “The Freeing power of Language and Literacy through the Arts” chronicles the collaboration between the authors on theme-based units and interdisciplinary projects in Language arts. The theme they had used was “Peace” and they used the various art forms: music, dance, drama, storytelling and poetry to celebrate language and literacy.

The poetry part of the unit tied into the connection between peace and nature, the beauty of nature and the students used their observations to enrich their writing. Poetry writing in the peace unit also allowed the students to discuss their inner thoughts and encouraged student collaboration and discussions on incomprehensible historical events such as the Holocaust and Slavery from Africa. These very real events are interesting to intermediate students who have begun to comprehend the realities of history.

The authors had developed ways that poetry could be incorporated across the other disciplines in the school curriculum and discourage student resentment of poetry. The third article “Poetry Power: Using Poems in Environmental Education” is similar to the second article in that it focuses on theme based language arts interdisciplinary projects and incorporates poetry into them. The third article is refreshing in that it touches on a very new and familiar theme, the environment and how each individual has the power to change and help save our planet.

Students are conscious that their participation in small actions such as recycling is contributing to the greater good of our planet and it makes students feel good about their learning. This article from the Green Teacher and the author has found ways she believes students, as poets can inform people of how our actions affect the planet we live on and children can reveal how societies have become disengaged from nature. Students are excited when they feel they can help make a difference in the world and it motivates them to get involved in their studies. As educators there are many things we can do to motivate students to write poetry.

According to the author, reading poetry to students motivates students to write poems and publishing student’s poems help motivate students to write even more poetry. The general census discovered in the reviewed articles is that poetry has a solid position within language arts curriculum. Reading poetry to students starting at a very young age to help enhance their listening skills is crucial. Listening skills enhance children’s vocabulary. Students with a larger vocabulary learn to better express themselves in and out of the classroom through various art forms.

Introducing poetry to students aids in the development of reading and writing skills and encourages students to find creative ways to express themselves through language. Poetry is a literary art form which all students can successfully participate in by just recording their thoughts on paper. Incorporating poetry into large theme-based units relating to topics that are interesting and engaging to older students encourages creativity and participation in poetry writing and reading. As educator’s we need to introduce students to the various forms of poetry but encourage them to choose the one that best suits their individual learning needs.

Maybe then the groans will turn into excitement and encourage students that poetry is a great way for them to develop meaning and creatively express themselves. The research discovered in these three articles indicates that poetry books are a valuable staple within the classroom and a useful tool in Language Arts curriculum. Poetry books can be introduced to students as story books and then a class discussion may reveal how this story is different. Essentially poems are like stories, they give meaning to experiences people come across in their daily lives, and poems can describe moments, places and events with fewer words.

Poems have a lyrical quality to them and make them more appealing to listeners. Poetry has the ability to connect readers and writers with nature. This development can encourage students to write their own poetry and educators can better understand how children view the world around them. The written word is a powerful tool and educators have the skills to encourage students to develop this form of artistic expression. As a future educator I understand the importance of introducing poetry to students at a young age to help develop their reading and writing skills.

By encouraging poetry readings, my students will develop early listening skills and learn to make meaning from the words in their vocabulary. The incorporation of poetry into larger language arts based themes will be an essential part of my teaching experience as I learn to assess the individual learning style of each of my students. These articles have shown that poetry and language arts can be incorporated into other disciplines across the school curriculum which I will take into consideration when I begin to teach.

I hope that my enthusiasm for poetry and my innovative language arts themes will encourage my students to not groan when I mention the word poetry. Works Cited Ediger, Marlow. “Exploring Poetry: The Reading and Writing Connection. ” Journal of Instructional Psychology. (June 203) Vol. 30, Issue 2. P. 165-169. Flensburg, Alison. “Poetry Power: Using Poems in Environmental Education. ” Green Teacher. (Winter 2009/2010) Issue 87. P. 16-23. Wright, Mary F. and Sandra Kowalczyk. “Peace by Piece: The Freeing Power of Language and Literacy through the Arts. ” The English Journal. (May 2000) Vol. 89. No. 5. P. 55-63.


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